Friday, March 15, 2019

Mooney M20C, N6075Q: Fatal accident occurred March 14, 2019 in Cashiers, Jackson County, North Carolina

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina

Location: Cashiers, NC
Accident Number: ERA19FA130
Date & Time: 03/14/2019, 1815 EDT
Registration: N6075Q
Aircraft: Mooney M20C
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 14, 2019, at 1815 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20C, N6075Q, departed controlled flight and collided with mountainous terrain near Cashiers, North Carolina. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. Day instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the personal flight which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Knoxville Downtown Island Airport (DKX), Knoxville, Tennessee, at 1724, and was enroute to Aiken Regional Airport (AIK), Aiken, South Carolina.

Preliminary information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a commercial vendor revealed that the pilot obtained a weather briefing the night before the flight. He filed his IFR flight plan through a commercial service on the day of the accident. After departure the airplane was observed on radar climbing and on course to AIK. While in cruise flight the pilot reported to air traffic control that he had "lost his attitude indicator" and was unable to maintain course and attitude. Radar contact and radio communication was lost shortly after.

The pilot, age 59, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane. He held an FAA-issued second-class medical certificate with no limitations. The pilot reported that his flight experience included 1,957.9 total flight hours and 14.8 hours in the last six months on his most-recent medical examination application, dated July 24, 2018. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated 279 flight hours in actual instrument conditions. The logbook also revealed that from June 2017 to December 2018 the pilot had accumulated 8 flight hours of actual instrument flight time. He recorded 1,662 total hours of experience in the accident airplane make and model.

The airplane was manufactured in 1965. It was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1D engine rated at 180 horsepower and was equipped with a Hartzell 3-bladed controllable pitch propeller.

The wreckage was located in mountainous, forested terrain in a debris field that was spread out 50 ft in circumference. The tops of the trees immediately surrounding the ground impact site were damaged. The fuselage came to rest inverted with the nose of the airplane pointing down vertically on a 60° heading magnetic at an elevation of 3,892 ft. All major components and control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. Various parts of the airplane were littered through the treetops and the wreckage debris field. Flight control continuity could not be confirmed due to multiple push/pull tube breaks and fractures. All breaks and fractures exhibited signatures consistent with overload failure.

The cabin sustained crush damage from the firewall through to the empennage. All flight controls were observed in the cockpit and were crushed. All of the cockpit instruments were crushed or destroyed and the dial readings were unreliable. The throttle, mixture, propeller and carburetor heat controls were crushed in the full forward position.

Fragments of scat tubing, engine mounts and engine cowling were located in the soil around the wreckage. The nose wheel landing gear assembly was crushed and observed retracted in the wheel well.

Examination of the right wing revealed that about 5 ft remained attached at the wing root. The remainder of the wing was crushed and fragmented. The wing sustained significant leading edge crush throughout the span of the wing. The main landing gear remained within the wheel well. The flap was broken away from the wing and separated into two sections within the debris field. Fragments of the aileron remained partially attached to part of the outboard section of the wing. Fragments of the aileron control tubes were observed within the wing broken and buckled. The fuel tanks were breached and fuel was not observed. All fuel lines within the wing were broken.

The vertical stabilizer was crushed and parts were located fragmented within the debris field. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer, and was crushed and buckled. About 3 ft of both horizontal stabilizers remained attached to the empennage. The outboard sections of the horizontal stabilizers were fragmented within the debris field. Both elevators were partially attached to the horizontal stabilizers and buckled. The remainder of the elevators were located within the debris field and crushed. Flight control tubes for the rudder and elevators were observed within the empennage crushed and fragmented. The control tubes remained partially attached to the bellcranks of the control surfaces.

Examination of the left wing revealed that about 7 ft remained attached at the wing root. The remainder of the wing was crushed and fragmented. The wing sustained significant leading edge crush throughout the span of the wing. The main landing gear remained within the wheel well. The flap was separated from the wing at the attachment points. The aileron was broken in two sections. The flight control tubes were not observed within the wing but were located within the debris field and were fragmented and buckled. The fuel tanks were breached and fuel was not observed. All fuel lines within the wing were broken.

The engine sustained heavy impact damage, exhibited no indications of catastrophic failure, and was crushed against the firewall. The No. 1 cylinder head was impact-damaged and separated from the cylinder. All valves remained attached to the cylinder heads and showed signs of impact damage. The pushrods for all the cylinders was bent aft and separated from the case. Both magnetos remained firmly attached and were impact damaged. All of the respective spark plug wires were impact damaged. The top and bottom sparkplugs were removed, examined and all eight sparkplugs were gray in color on the electrodes. When removed and tested, impact damage prevented them from producing spark at all terminal leads. The carburetor was separated from the intake manifold, and from the air inlet filter box. The carburetor was fragmented and crushed.

The engine's crankshaft could not be rotated due to the impact damage. The propeller flange was broken away from the crankshaft. The valvetrain was observed intact throughout the engine. All fuel lines were broken and fragmented. The engine-driven fuel pump was broken away from the engine case and all fittings were damaged. All fuel lines from the firewall through to the engine driven fuel pump and carburetor were fragmented. Examination of the three blade propeller revealed twisting, bending, and chordwise scratching. One blade was broken mid-span and exhibited significant impact damage.

At 1820, the weather recorded at Macon County Airport (1A5), Franklin, North Carolina, located about 16 nautical miles north of the accident site included scattered clouds at 2,300 ft, a broken ceiling at 2,900 ft, an overcast ceiling at 4,000 ft and calm. Visibility was 10 statute miles. The temperature was 15°C, and the dew point was 14°C. The altimeter setting was 30.11 inches of mercury.

An NTSB Meteorologist performed a preliminary review of the weather conditions surrounding the accident site and the weather products provided to the pilot. On the previous day at 1819, the pilot obtained an on-line weather briefing from the commercial vendor that included terminal area forecasts predicting instrument meteorological conditions, AIRMETS for low-level wind shear, areas of high and low turbulence along the airplane's proposed route of flight. According to the vendor, the pilot did view weather imagery prior to the flight.

The airplane, including the vacuum pump, attitude, and heading indicators, were retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Mooney
Registration: N6075Q
Model/Series: M20C No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Unknown
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: K1A5, 2035 ft msl
Observation Time: 1820 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2300 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2900 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Knoxville, TN (DKX)
Destination: Aiken, SC (AIK) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Unknown
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.062500, -83.153889

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Gary Huttleston

AIKEN – Gary Huttleston, 59, passed away Thursday, March 14th, 2019.

Gary was predeceased by his son Lon Huttleston and mother Marian Huttleston.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Cindy Huttleston, father Richard Huttleston, Endicott, NY, sister Teri Brogdale, Endicott, NY, 3 grandchildren; in laws, Buzz and Kitty Baiardo, Peoria, IL, Debbie (Mark) Adams, Liberty Township, OH, Reba Baiardo, Peoria, IL, Michael (Janine) Baiardo,  nieces and nephews Lauren, Lindsey, Nick, Samantha, Ryan and Skylar.  Also, his cherished pets, Abby and Lacey.

Gary was born in Binghamton, NY, a son of Richard L. Huttleston and the late Marian Huttleston.  He attended Union Endicott High School class of 1977.  He attended Delhi College, Utica College in Syracuse, NY, and later received two Master’s Degrees from Florida Institute of Technology.  He was a Superintendent of Construction and Project Management for CB&I for 37 years, and later worked for Bechtel.  Gary was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed camping, biking, kayaking, working outdoors and playing golf.  He also enjoyed get-togethers with friends and time spent in Downtown Aiken.  He loved to fly, having been a pilot since 1990.  He loved to watch sports and was an avid Yankees and Syracuse fan.

He was a member of Cedar Creek Church and attended services regularly.  He also enjoyed going to homegroup through the church.

"When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God's love."~Charles H Spurgeon

Romans 14:8-for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die; we are the Lord's. 

A visitation will be held from 2:00-4:00 PM Friday, March 22, 2019, and a Celebration of Life will follow at 4:00 PM at Cedar Creek Church, Banks Mill Campus, with the Reverend Phillip Lee officiating.

Gary's funeral service will be broadcast live at

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to FOTAS (, or to Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Center, P.O. Box 358, Gloverville, South Carolina  29828.

Gary’s online guest book may be signed at


Gary Huttleston

JACKSON COUNTY, North Carolina (WSPA) - UPDATE (3/15/19  4 p.m.):

One person was killed in a plane crash Friday in Jackson County.

Search teams found the wreckage of the plane at about 12:45 p.m. in a rugged area of southern Jackson County, south of Whiteside Mountain. 

Gary Huttleston was piloting the single engine plane. 

Crews will continue to investigate the cause of the crash. 

Huttleston's family arrived on scene just before 3:30 p.m. 

ORIGINAL (3/15/19 12:06 p.m.):  Crews are searching the western North Carolina mountains for a missing airplane.

Macon County Emergency Management said in a news release that crews from Macon and Jackson counties are trying to locate the overdue plane. Its last known location was the Whiteside Mountain area around 6:15 p.m. Thursday. 

The single-engine plane was headed to Aiken, S.C. from Knoxville, Tenn. but failed to reach its destination, according to Macon County Emergency Management. 

Teams started searching around 1 a.m. Friday but had to call of the search until daylight.

Searchers are limited by the remote, rugged terrain and weather conditions. 
Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad said in a news release that local, state, and federal agencies are assisting in the full-scale search operation. 

Nat Turner, public information officer with the rescue squad, said crews are currently searching southwest of Cashiers, N.C. 

Jackson County dispatch was notified around 6:30 p.m. Thursday by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) “that a plane was in distress in southern Jackson County. Further information from the AFRCC and the FAA indicated that the plane was last seen on radar at 6:14 pm EST and that the plane was a single engine private aircraft,” according to a release issued by the rescue squad.

Original article can be found here ➤

JACKSON COUNTY, North Carolina (WLOS) — A South Carolina man has died in what appears to be a single-engine plane crash in Jackson County.

Pilot Gary Huttleston of Aiken, South Carolina, the sole person on board, was killed in the crash.

Authorities say search teams found wreckage Friday around 12:45 p.m in a rugged part of the county. They also say a recovery operation is underway, as well as an investigation into the cause.

Emergency responders in Southern Macon/Jackson County searched for Huttleston's aircraft, which was expected to land at an Aiken, South Carolina airport Thursday, but never arrived.

Numerous agencies including the Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad were involved in the search.

Authorities say the plane's last known location was around 6:15 p.m. Thursday, in the Whiteside Mountain area near the Macon/Jackson County line.

An FAA representative says that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Alert Notice Thursday night advising search and rescue authorities about a missing aircraft.

Huttleston's aircraft departed from Knoxville Downtown Airport in Tennessee at about 5:30 p.m. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight at about 6:20 p.m., when it was about 17 miles south of Macon County Airport in Franklin.

Original article can be found here ➤

MACON COUNTY, North Carolina (WRDW/WAGT) -- Gary Huttleston, the pilot from Aiken County whose plane crashed in the North Carolina mountains, has died in the crash.

Huttleston's plane crashed near Cashiers, NC after it took off from Knoxville, TN on Thursday night.

Search crews from Macon and Jackson Counties had been actively searching the area around Whiteside Mountain, in North Carolina, since 6:15 p.m. Thursday. That's the last place the plane was tracked.

The single-engine plane had taken off from Knoxville, Tennessee around 5:30 p.m., the FAA said, and was scheduled to land in Aiken. Crews are searching on the ground due to weather concerns, and the Air Force is assisted.

Story and video ➤

According to a press release from Macon County Emergency Management agency, crews are searching for a plane that took off from Knoxville, but never reached its destination.

Macon County 911 communications supervisor Todd Seagle confirmed the plane's tail number is N6075Q. According to the Federal Aviation Administration's online database the Mooney M20C is registered to Gary Huttleston of Aiken, South Carolina 

The single-engine plane left Island Home airport Thursday just before 5:30 p.m. and was expected to arrive in Aiken, South Carolina around 7 p.m. but never made it there. Officials said they believe there was one passenger on board.

The last known location of the plane is in the Whiteside Mountain area. Emergency Management Crews in Macon County were notified when air traffic controllers in Atlanta lost contact with the aircraft.

Search efforts are difficult due to bad weather conditions in the area. Crews are confined to searching via ground only. The search area includes rough terrain and wilderness.

The Macon County Emergency Management Agency said the airforce is assisting in the search.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Sad story that hits home as I'm currently taking instrument lessons in a 1971 Arrow with a vucuum driven attitude indicator. If I had my own plane the 1st upgrade I would install would be a new electrically operated attitude indicator. RIP to the pilot and my condolences to his family.

    1. Get a Stratus or something similar as a backup

  2. I backup with a Dynon D2 "Pocket Panel". Complete independent instrument. $800 or so. Wouldn't fly IFR without it.

  3. I'm not reading information about failed vacuum system in the above article. Is that available elsewhere?

  4. Right below the article title it states: Pilot reported loss of attitude indicator in IMC. Not sure if he just lost the attitude indicator OR had a vacuum pump failure causing loss of associated instruments. Either way an emergency when in IMC.

  5. Wow... the flight track is spooky!